Juma Masjid by Esam Mudeer
In August 1881 Aboobaker Amod Jhaveri together with Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada purchased a site in Grey Street from K Moonsamy for 115 pounds for the construction of a mosque. A tiny brick and mortar structure which stood on the site was converted into the mosque. In 1884 the two founders had the brick and mortar structure rebuilt, enlarging it. The Juma Masjid was the first mosque to be built in Natal. On February 15, 1884 Aboobaker′s estate purchased land adjacent to the mosque to enable its expansion. In 1889 Hajee Mahomed Dada, in his capacity as the only trustee of the Grey Street Mosque purchased more adjoining land because of a sharp increase in the number of worshippers. The first of the two minarets on the Grey Street Mosque was constructed in 1904. At the same time, two shops were built adjacent to the mosque to provide an income for its maintenance. A second minaret was added to the mosque structure in 1905 and several rooms, toilets and shower facilities were also added at the rear of the of the mosque for use by travellers to the city. Rooms were also built for the mu′adhdhin. (All these dwellings had to be removed when the Juma Masjid Girls School was built adjacent to the mosque). These minarets were at the at time two of the highest structures in the city of Durban.
The mosque was rebuilt in 1927 according to the design of architects Payne and Payne. The building is a unique blend of Islamic decorations and strong Union period vernacular style. Further extensions were made to the Grey Street Mosque in 1943.
The mosque building is a large plastered structure representing a mixture of styles. A bridge extends from the neighbouring girls′ school to the roof of the mosque. The flat roof, which is used for prayer during festivals is used as a play-ground during school days as the school has no play grounds.
The style of the Grey Street Mosque is essentially geometrical. The windows and inter-leading doors and the arched doorways all stress the geometrical design.
The Grey Street Mosque is reputed to be the oldest mosque in the southern hemisphere and until the late 1970s also enjoyed the status of being the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere.
More related articles on the web:
Muslims in South Africa: Origins, Struggles and Achievements (Part Two)
Mosques in South Africa